IntroductionWilliam & Mary is committed to providing an environment where all members of the community are treated with dignity and respect. The Office of Compliance & Equity is responsible for preventing, detecting and responding to complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
What is discrimination & harassment?When someone is treated differently because of personal factors based on a protected group, it may be discrimination. Protected groups includes race, religion, creed, national origin, color, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability (or preceived disability), citizenship status, age, marital status, family responsibilities, Veteran or military status (including disabled Veteran, recently separated Veteran, active duty wartime or campaign badge Veteran, and Armed Forces Service Medal Veteran), predisposing genetic characteristics.
• Disparate treatment means different treatment of members in a protected group from similarly situated people not in a protected group, or in the absence of comparative evidence, other direct evidence of discriminatory intent or indirect evidence that the actions were motivated by discrimination
• Disparate Impact means discrimination that occurs when policies, practices, rule or other systems that appear to be neutral result in a disproportionate impact on a protected group.
• Discriminatory Harassment means unwelcome conduct based on a person’s belonging to or a perception that a person belongs to a protected group. Harassment violates this policy when it creates a hostile environment. .
What is retaliation?
Retaliation is any adverse action taken by a respondent or allied third party against a person because the person made a good faith report of discrimination, discriminatory harassment, retaliation or sexual misconduct, or the person is involved in or participated in an investigation or proceeding of such reported allegation under this policy. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, threatening, intimidating, harassing, coercing or any other conduct that would deter a reasonable person from engaging in activity protected under this policy. Retaliation does not include good faith counter complaints lawfully pursued in response to a report of discrimination or harassment, or non-discriminatory adverse actions taken for legitimate purposes (e.g. employee discipline for tardiness, student honor code charges for separate plagiarism incident).
Examples of Protected Activity:
• Making a complaint of discrimination or harassment
• Reporting suspected misconduct (fraud, conflict of interest, etc.)
• Cooperating in an investigation
• Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
• Resisting sexual advances
• Requesting an accommodation of a disability
WILLIAM & MARY STRICTLY PROHIBITS RETALIATION.
Engaging in protected activity, however, does not shield an employee from all personnel actions which may include performance management, discipline or discharge. For example, an employee who files a complaint and is subsequently 30 minutes late to work multiple days a week may be disciplined for the behavior. Retaliation occurs when the employee who files a complaint has habitually been late to work by 5-10 minutes for the past two years and never been reprimanded for it. Now, after a compliant has been filed, the supervisor wants to impose discipline against the employee for tardiness.
**Retaliation occurs when you experience materially adverse action that is a result of you engaging in a protected activity.**
What if the harassing conduct is not based on a protected trait?Behaviors that are unprofessional, uncivilized, threatening, intimating, or meant to humiliate can feel hostile, make someone uncomfortable, and make the work environment unbearable. This conduct is not necessarily discrimination. Unprofessional or condescending conduct may be related to an individual’s personality and/or the conduct may be directed to everyone generally, rather than a selected class of individuals. Unprofessional and uncivilized behavior can and should be addressed by management. It is important for reporting parties to understand that management cannot always share the outcome of how the behaviors were addressed.
Individuals who speak with supervisors about a colleague’s conduct or who speak to Human Resources about a manager’s lack of effective communication are protected from retaliation.
You have options for raising concerns about non-discriminatory behaviors that are inappropriate, antagonistic, or threatening:
• Speak directly to the Individual—if you feel comfortable, it is sometimes best to address your concerns and perspectives of the inappropriate behavior directly with the individual first. If the individual is your supervisor, you may request that someone accompany you when you speak with him or her.
• Supervisor—Employees may raise concerns with supervisors or second level supervisors to address unacceptable or uncivilized conduct.
• University Ombuds—the Ombuds serves as an informal resource for all employees seeking assistance with workplace concerns. This is a confidential resource.
• Employee Relations—this HR specialist provides guidance, counseling and assistance to employees who are experiencing conflict or issues in the workplace. The Employee Relations Director, Debbie Howe, can also help employees through the Commonwealth’s Grievance Procedure or refer employees to alternate dispute resolution programs such as mediation.
• William & Mary Police Department—Behavior that involves physical force that is intended to hurt someone or damage something or language or behaviors that (1) threatens physical injury to another or intentional damage to property and has the effect of intimidating, frightening , coercing or provoking others should be reported to the WMPD.
What happens if I file a complaint that I want investigated?• The Office of Compliance & Equity team will conduct an initial assessment of the report to determine if a compliance issue is raised or if the matter should be referred to another department (such as Employee Relations).
• If the Compliance Team determines that the matter alleges discrimination, harassment or retaliation, the Review Team, composed of OCE representative(s), Human Resources representative(s) and William & Mary Police Department representative(s) will evaluate the complaint and may recommend investigation, which will be conducted according to the Employee Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Compliant Procedure.
• The Office of Compliance & Equity will email you to communicate if the matter was referred elsewhere or if an investigation has been authorized or not.
Important Contact Information
Office of Compliance & Equity
Chief Compliance Officer/Title IX Coordinator
Deputy Compliance Officer/ADA Coordinator
University Ombuds Office
Deputy Chief Human Resources Officer
William & Mary Police Department